Happy new year everyone! I truly hope that this year brings you all lots of adventure and good fortune. Be sure to check out my latest blog post here regarding my new year resolutions!
Anyway, on to the post!
Due to the nature of my travelling, I now find it very easy to tell the difference between a conservation project and a scam. However, I fell for almost all of the scams when I first started travelling. If it wasn’t for my mum, I would be very poor and not have helped conservation at all!
So how can I tell?
Some scams are really obvious based on their website. All of the reputable projects I have worked with have impressive websites, with lots of information about the history of the project, how you can get involved, what they are hoping to achieve, and why they need volunteers.
There should be contact information available and the ability to request a brochure of information regarding volunteering.
They should also have a disclaimer stating that you might not be able to do all the fun and ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunities. If they say that you can do everything, then I don’t believe it is honest or focuses properly on the animal welfare.
The Information They Give You
Once again, all good projects I have been to have provided at least 1 booklet of information that is longer than 3 pages long.
The information in this booklet should comprise of:
- More information regarding the history of the project
- Location(s) of the project
- Accommodation provided
- Meals, if provided, or means of cooking if not
- Objectives of the project, and how they are working towards them
- What volunteers would be doing
- Rules of being a volunteer
- Frequently Asked Questions (with answers!)
- A packing list
- If communication with home is possible (wifi, signal etc)
- Showering and laundry facilities
- Other information they believe is necessary for the nature of the project
I wouldn’t expect to have quick replies from these kind of projects, however I have yet to talk to a volunteer coordinator who doesn’t seem enthusiastic about new volunteers.
They should be willing to answer all of your questions and let you know about local places you could stay if you needed to.
Questions You Should Ask
As said previously, a reputable project should be willing to answer all of your questions, but it is important to ask the right ones.
- Where does the money volunteers pay, go?
- What hours are volunteers expected to work? Do they get days off?
- Are there extra activities or places volunteers can go on their day off?
- How much spending money should volunteers bring and where can you spend your money?
I highly recommend asking if you could be put in contact with previous volunteers to ask what they thought of the project and what the realities are.
I have yet to have a reputable company deny me the opportunity to talk to someone who was in my position. They will send you to someone who loved their time there, but they should still be honest with you about the ups and downs.
Hopefully I have covered everything in this post, but I do recommend following your gut feeling. If something feels off, then there is probably something wrong.
However, if the project has all the information I have mentioned then you should be good to go!
If I have missed anything then please let me know in the comments below!